What does resilience mean to children?

Zeta Williams-Brown, Jayne Daly, Michael Jopling, Andy Aston

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


Children encounter a vast range of adverse experiences, ranging from poverty, lack of access to quality education or disability to family illness, addiction, prejudice or bereavement. For some children these disadvantages seem to develop their resilience and encourage them to seek to change the course of their life. Others find it much more difficult to overcome them. We therefore need to question why are some children so resilient?

Today resilience is a fashionable word and you may encounter it frequently, particularly in texts that are concerned with children’s well-being. The term resilience is a buzzword, seen in policy and used in practice. Programmes such as the UK Resilience Programme and Headstart have been developed in order to support childhood resilience. Yet the term remains complex and multi-faceted.
In this chapter we consider the complexity involved in defining the term resilience and identifying the need to consider and celebrate moments of resilience, whether they are in relation to minor or major adverse experiences for children. We also consider theory around whether children are born with inbuilt traits that support them being resilient and the influences of family and community on children’s resilience. The chapter provides examples of childhood resilience in both minor and major circumstances of adversity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChildhood wellbeing and resilience
Subtitle of host publicationinfluences on educational outcomes
EditorsZeta Williams-Brown, Sarah Mander
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9780367342432
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2020


  • resilience
  • children
  • education


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